NY Gov. Cuomo responds after former aide says he kissed her, suggested strip poker

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was the golden boy of the Democratic party just a few months ago, but now, he is facing an avalanche of controversy.

There are investigations into why he didn't accurately disclose the number of nursing home deaths from COVID, as well as allegations of inappropriate behavior from two politically active women.

Cuomo has repeatedly and emphatically denied all the accusations.

On Wednesday, Assemblyman Ron Kim -- who has accused Cuomo of threatening him over criticism regarding the nursing home data -- and others held a rally at City Hall to demand Cuomo be held accountable.

It came as a former member of Cuomo's administration who previously accused him of sexual harassment offered new details, saying he once kissed her on the lips without consent after a private meeting.

Lindsey Boylan said that during her more than three years working as an economic adviser in the administration, Cuomo "would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs," compared her to one of his rumored ex-girlfriends and once joked they should play strip poker.

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Boylan, a Democrat running for Manhattan borough president, wrote in a post on the website Medium that the kiss happened after she gave Cuomo a one-on-one briefing on economic and infrastructure projects in his New York City office.

"As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking," she said. "The idea that someone might think I held my high-ranking position because of the governor's 'crush' on me was more demeaning than the kiss itself."

Boylan, a former deputy secretary for economic development and special advisor to the governor, tweeted in December that Cuomo sexually harassed her, but she didn't reveal details and declined interview requests.

At the time, Cuomo denied that he did anything inappropriate.

"Look, I fought for and I believe a woman has the right to come forward and express her opinion and express issues and concerns that she has," Cuomo told reporters. "But it's just not true."

Cuomo's spokesperson Caitlin Girouard said Wednesday that all of Boylan's "claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false."

Those at the City Hall rally said Wednesday that Cuomo's nursing home policies last spring and summer led to countless deaths that must be investigated.

"I have been not surprised but gravely disappointed with the governor's actions with regard to this nursing home fiasco," state Senator Jessica Ramos said.

The politicians and family members demanded an apology and accountability. That includes Vivian Zayas, who lost her 78-year-old mother to COVID in April.

"I will always carry my mother in my heart," she said.

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Cuomo said last week that he and his team did the best they could during the worst of the pandemic.

"New York is number 34 in nursing home deaths," he said "How is it so terrible of a job if it's number 34 nursing home deaths, and we had COVID before anybody else."

Boylan, a former deputy secretary for economic development and special advisor to the governor, tweeted in December that Cuomo sexually harassed her, but she didn't reveal details and declined interview requests. At the time, Cuomo denied that he did anything inappropriate.

"Look, I fought for and I believe a woman has the right to come forward and express her opinion and express issues and concerns that she has," Cuomo told reporters. "But it's just not true."

Boylan said she initially spoke up about her experiences because of reports Cuomo was being considered as President Joe Biden's pick for attorney general, and she decided to elaborate, she wrote, because she hoped it would empower other women to come forward.

The Legislature's two top leaders criticized Cuomo as calls grew for an investigation into the governor's workplace conduct.

"I have read the reports," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. "These are serious allegations. Harassment in the workplace of any kind should not be tolerated."

Senate Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, a Democrat who's pushing to increase legislative oversight over Cuomo's emergency powers, said Boylan's account shocked her.

"This is deeply disturbing," Stewart Cousins said. "Clearly, there is no place for this type of behavior in the workplace or anywhere else."

In the essay, Boylan also wrote that Cuomo suggested playing strip poker while they were on a plane. Four Cuomo staffers disputed the claim.

"We were on each of these October flights and this conversation did not happen," they said in a statement.

The governor's health commissioner will testify before state lawmakers about nursing homes on Thursday, and the Senate is set to vote next week to curb some of Cuomo's executive power.

The New York State Legislature is requesting that Attorney General Letitia James investigate the sexual assault allegations.

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